LAS VEGAS – New Jersey, often seen as the gold standard in online gambling regulation, is requiring online gaming operators in the state to up their own game in advancing responsible gambling efforts in the state.
David Rebuck, director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, discussed on Monday a first-in-the-country initiative that will require online operators to use their immense data-collecting capacities to identify problem gambling behaviors and reach out to customers who appear in danger if they're getting in over their heads.
During a symposium highlighting gaming regulation Monday, during the first day of the Global Gaming Expo at the Venetian Expo in Las Vegas, Rebuck ticked off several areas of focus for his division and included in his broad comments elevating responsible gaming effort among online operators.
New Jersey has real money mobile casinos as well as sports betting.
Rebuck Illuminates New Idea
Later, during an interview with TopNJCasinos.com, Rebuck was more specific.
“These online gaming companies collect enormous amounts of data,” Rebuck said. “That data that’s already being used for marketing can also been passed on to their responsible gaming people who can reach out to customers in some fashion in that’s needed.”
Rebuck explained that the state is requiring gaming operators to submit proposals in developing algorithms that can be used for responsible gaming purposes for New Jersey betting apps by January.
The operators can furnish that same data to the customers, Rebuck said, so that gamblers can have concrete evidence of their behavior. If that doesn’t alert the customer to a potential problem, the gaming operator could initiate more direct interaction.
“They can send them a text or an email or even make a phone call,” Rebuck said. “It can simply be ‘This is the data we collected and we wanted to make you aware, and perhaps you didn’t read it.’ ”
If the message falls on deaf ears, the interaction could become firmer, Rebuck said.
Rebuck is optimistic that operators will be receptive to the initiative.
“In fact, it was an operator that came to us and suggested this,” Rebuck said, “and I said, ‘Ah hah.’ ”
He also said that once operators start using their data collection expertise combined with algorithms to identify potential problem gamblers, the state will conduct audits to see how the algorithms are being applied and to what effect.
“We’ll look at what they’ve been doing and be in a position to say, ‘Well, we see what you’ve done with this customer but what about this other guy?’ ” he said.
Knowing Limits of Customers
Gambling companies almost always have a good understanding of what their biggest players can afford. For one thing, if wagers are large enough, they must be reported to FinCEN (shorthand for the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network).
In the United Kingdom and Europe, there has been talk about governments stepping in to enforce concepts of “affordability” in gaming, meaning limiting wagering limits.
During the open symposium, Rebuck said any attempt to force such limits in America would likely be a disaster.
Instead, he said, operators have an interest in making sure that their customers don’t gamble themselves into financial ruin.
So, it would appear that New Jersey’s soon-to-arrive program, that will have gambling operators use their vast reservoirs of data and powerful algorithms to curtail dysfunctional gambling behaviors, is meant to give the gambling industry an opportunity to make good on its promises and intentions to truly promote responsible gaming.
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